Dr. Nancy Jane Batten
Dr. Lorraine Braswell
Dr. Jennifer Whitford

  • Project:   “An Objective Tool to Aid Diagnosis of PTSD and Evaluate Treatment Outcome” approved by IRB and underway.  
    • Almira Vazdarjanova, Ph.D.  Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology AU,   is principal investigator .  Rebecca Naloor, Ph.D.   co-investigator AU
    • Grant submitted under title “An Objective Tool to Aid Diagnosis of PTSD and Evaluate treatment Outcome and relapse Probability in Post-Traumatic Stress disorder (PTSD)” Will be submitted in November for funding and for 4 years.

Catherine L. Davis, Ph.D.

  • Studies focus on exercise effects on child health and achievement.  The Effect of Quality Rated Status on Children’s School Readiness 

    The purpose of this pilot study is to investigate whether Quality Rated status (stars awarded; portfolio submitted) and/or the points awarded for center-reported information in the Quality Rated Portfolio for Standard #2, Nutrition and Physical Activity Assessment and Improvement Plan, predict child BMI (included in the 4-point screening) and/or school readiness, assessed by the Ages & Stages Questionnaire in children 3-5 years old in child care centers in the Georgia Child Care Resource and Referral Regions Three and Five (Central and Southeast regions of Georgia).  
  • Exercise & Overweight Children’s Cognition (SMART)

    A randomized clinical trial of an after-school exercise program, vs. one that does not include exercise, will test effects on executive function and brain function in overweight 8-11 year olds at the Georgia Prevention Institute. This is based on a prior trial that showed dose-response effects of an exercise program on executive function in overweight children. Data on adiposity, fitness, and cardiovascular risk are being collected along with psychological factors. The study is funded by NIH from 2008-2014.
  • Supplement-Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and arteriosclerotic risk

    An additional project measures liver fat, fibrosis, and arterial stiffness noninvasively and includes blood assays for insulin resistance, adiponectin, lipid profile, and inflammation to test the effects of exercise on nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and arteriosclerotic risk in overweight children enrolled in the SMART study. The study is funded by NIH from 2010-2014.
  • Diversity supplement-osteocalcin

    Dr. Norman Pollock, nutritionist at the GPI will extend the study to exercise effects on osteocalcin, a hormone produced by bone which influences metabolism and diabetes risk, in overweight children enrolled in the SMART study. The study is funded by NIH from 2010-2014.
  • Supplement-Diffusion tensor imaging

    An additional grant will support DTI and resting MRI studies in the last group of 50 children enrolled in the SMART study  (baseline summer 2011, posttest Spring 2012) to assess possible changes in brain connectivity and myelination that may result from exercise, that may be responsible for cognitive benefits. It will also assess structural changes in the brain. Funded by NIH 2010-2011 (with anticipated carryover into 2012).
  • Executive function in children with attention deficit disorder

    A pilot study to assess relations of fatness and fitness to cognitive function, brain function (fMRI), classroom behavior, and achievement in children on medication for ADHD. If fatness and poor fitness predict poorer function in these children, there is potential for exercise as an adjunct treatment to improve functioning.

    The study is funded by the Child Health Discovery Institute 2010-2012.

Bernard Davidson, Ph.D.

  • Family Solutions Program

    Presently this project involves the follow up analyses of two counties (representing diversity in socio-economic, racial, and ethnic composition) on the effectiveness of a multiple family group intervention in reducing juvenile delinquent acts. In addition, family, school, and social variables associated with delinquency and positive response to program intervention for this population is being examined.

Ralph Gillies, Ph.D.

  • Opportunities to conduct health psychology research in the AU Health’s Family Medicine Center which has +10,000 health visits annually and a diverse patient population.
  • Opportunities to conduct research (e.g., survey, intervention) related to teaching behavioral medicine, health psychology, psychosocial aspects of health to medical students, residents, faculty.

Amy House, Ph.D.

  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy group treatment for recovery from substance abuse – examining psychological flexibility as a mediator of change.  Currently collecting data.
  • Other research being developed: Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy as a Stage 2 DBT treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder.  Examining psychological flexibility and mindfulness processes as mediators of change in DBT skills group participants.

Christian Lemmon, Ph.D.

  • I have a data base of more than 1000 patients who have been evaluated over the years within the Eating Disorders Program that includes the results of extensive psychological testing in the form of numerous tests and a lengthy questionnaire. The data set also includes more than 300 bariatric surgery patients. There are many research questions that can be studied with this data. The questionnaire includes patient demographic information, and information about the patients’ dieting and weight histories, specific eating disorder symptoms and other maladaptive eating behaviors, physical activity patterns, sleep patterns, medical history, psychiatric history, substance use history, family medical and psychiatric histories, etc. Psychological tests include several eating disorder and body image tests, the BDI, and several social anxiety tests. In one study that made use of this data set, we examined “Factors Related to Chewing and Spitting in Eating Disorder Patients.”

Alex Mabe, Ph.D.

  • Georgia's Imperative in Mental Health Service Development: Immersing Practitioners in the Recovery Model.
    Objective: Examine the effectiveness of the Project GREAT recovery curriculum in fostering recovery knowledge and attitudes among East Central Georgia Regional Hospital practitioners.

Michael Rollock, Ph.D.

  • Wellbeing psychiatric residents and the impact of psychoeducational interventions based on positive psychology principles. 

Lara Stepleman

  • LGBTQ ResearchTeam
    Description: Project availability varies but current projects include planning and implementation of studies related to:  1) LGBTQ health disparities, including the first community health needs assessment in our region of 400+ individuals and 2) another examining behavioral health screenings of patients treated at the Equality Clinic of Augusta, our student run, free clinic for LGBTQ individuals. Several additional projects related to policies for transgender patients in inpatient psychiatric settings, the relationship between gender transitioning and sexual identity, and emotion regulation and suicidalityare also planned. In additional to Dr. Stepleman, Drs. Chris Drescher, Tracy Casanova, and Jessica Britt also provide mentorship on the LGBTQ projects.

Holly Tabernik, Ph.D.

  • Dr. Tabernik’s research interests are primarily related to forensic evaluations, treatment in inpatient settings, and Severe and Persistent Mental Illness. Specific interests and areas of past research include: malingering, settled insanity, competency restoration, DBT adapted to an inpatient setting, suicide prevention in an inpatient setting, and the psychometrics of Forensic Assessment Measures.

Michael J. Vitacco, Ph.D., ABPP

  • Research has focused on risk factors for individuals adjudicated not guilty by reason of insanity and returned to the community for treatment and monitoring. This research has involved working with individual states and evaluating large samples of justice-involved individuals with serious and persistent mental illness. Dr. Vitacco has also been involved in research improving classification of malingering. He has also been active conducting research on the use of social media as collateral data in forensic evaluations.  Finally, Dr, Vitacco continues to conduct programmatic research in psychopathy and external correlates of the classification.

Lindsey West, Ph.D.

  • West’s research has focused primarily on enhancing the mental health and quality of life of individuals from diverse backgrounds.  Previous studies have included examining the impact of racism-related stress on anxious and depressive symptoms in samples of individuals who racially identify as Black, clinical considerations and adaptations of acceptance-based behavioral therapies among diverse samples, coping with stress in underserved samples, and examining what works and does not work, therapeutically, for individuals from diverse populations.